Re: [Discuss-sudbury-model] Encouragment.

From: Jennifer Blair <>
Date: Wed Apr 6 07:09:00 2005

First... please understand that I raised these questions not because I am being argumentative or defensive , but because I want to try to fully understand. I do have a couple more questions...

I understand the process of voting staff in and out. I imagine that after voting someone in there is a period of time students are getting to know the new staff member and they may be a good staff person for the school or not... I also imagine that staff might change their philosophy of education and, rather than stepping out of their position, their new views might affect their relationships with students and they may be voted out. I also understand the importance of removing staff who are not supportive of the model. Have you experienced staff changing in this way and then being removed?

I'm curious about how you "campaign to remove a staff member"

Does anyone have experience with a staff member initiating the removal of another staff member?

On the issue of students (actually their parents usually) paying tuition and staff being paid... have school felt they had to accept students/families they felt did not support the school because they needed the income. In my area we are seeing a growth in private school enrollment due to parents not wanting their kids in public school (usually because their kid would be in special ed.) They are making these decision not because they want a particular education for their children but because of what they don't want... this is alo resulting in school hopping. Is anyone else experiencing this?


----- Original Message -----
  From: Scott David Gray<>
  Sent: Tuesday, April 05, 2005 10:20 PM
  Subject: Re: [Discuss-sudbury-model] Encouragment.

  On Tue, 5 Apr 2005, Jennifer Blair wrote:

> Anyway, wouldn't the students have to vote them out ...and
> what if the students didn't recognize the encouragement as
> an adult may... and what if they didn't find it
> offensive.... Should anyone assume that they know how
> someone else will vote? Are adults going to influence the
> students' votes to get rid of a staff member who they
> believe "encouraged" a student? Can anyone tell me if
> there has been a staff member at a sudbury model school
> voted out for "encouraging" students.

  Well, my comments were based on having been part of the
  community at Sudbury Valley for the past 25 years. Several
  of those as a student. But, they were *my* comments -- and I
  can only report with certainty *how* people voted -- not
  *why* they voted that way.

  I can think of several adults who students have rejected as
  possible staff candidtaes. Of those, my *feeling* about the
  rejection of many of them had to do with those people being
  too 'proactive' in encouragement -- not respecting personal

  I can also think of staff who have been voted out over the
  years. Most of the comments on the floor of the meeting
  about those staff, including the 'feeling' in the air, has
  been that they were too intrusive.

  So I'll give you my educated sense -- based upon 25 years of
  experience in the school (8 as a tudents, 7 as an Officer of
  the corporation, and 10 as a staff memeber), and based upon
  what several students have actually *said* about their
  reasons for voting certain ways -- that students don't like
  the sort of intrusiveness that sometimes masquerades as
  adult encouragement.

  Can I *prove* that what people are *saying* about their
  rationale for voting certain ways is their rationale? No.
  But it seems that I owe people the respect as assuming that
  they mean what they say until I can see evidence to the
  contrary. And, certainly, at least one major campaign to
  remove a staff member that I was part of as a student, I
  remember being part of because of my clear sense that she
  thought she knew better than the individual students what
  those students needed.

  I do want to say Jennifer, that you are *absolutely* right,
  when you suggest that everyone goes through a growing
  process, including staff. Certainly, every year I feel that
  I am a better staff member than I was in the year before. It
  *is* important that people are supportive of everyone in our
  community -- staff and staudents. And, frankly, I am very
  thankful that the School Meeting was as patient with me as
  it was in my first couple years on the staff.

  The reality is that there is a little learning curve for our
  culture -- the kids don't get it when they walk in the door,
  and neither do the adults. But in order to keep an adult on
  staff, the School Meeting *at*least* wants to know that the
  staff member *recognizes* errors and problems; they want to
  know that the adult has the capacity to come quickly up to
  speed as a staff member, and avoid the gross mistakes, and
  become a valued asset.

  There *are* material difference between students and staff
  -- for one obvious basic example (not the only one) students
  *pay* for the privilege of being in the community, while
  staff are *paid.* This has ramifications. Including the fact
  that the School Meeting is willing to spend a lot more time
  and energy on finding a way to bring a student who is
  annoying people into the community, than they are willing to
  spend on brining a *paid* *adult* who is not adding much to
  the community, especially if that adult is actively making
  life uncomfortable for some. This seems reasonable to me.

  Finally, lets please not ignore the fact that when an adult
  says something to a kid which implies a serious *judgement*
  by the adult, it is (at least in our culture) *much* harder
  for the child to dismiss it than it is for the child to
  dismiss things said by his/her peers. When I was a kid,
  you'd argue with your friends all the time about stuff. But
  when an adult said something, it was a *much* weightier
  thing to actually disagree. Because of that, in a school
  which is fostering independence, it is imperitive that the
  adults use some care to not take clear sides on decisions
  that really are personal choices. And, when possible, leave
  any formal statements about what 'should' be done to the
  school's democratic and judicial structures.

> Jennifer Blair

  --Scott David Gray
  reply to:<><>
  How do you explain school to a higher intelligence?

  -- Elliot, 'E.T.'

  Discuss-sudbury-model mailing list<><>
Received on Wed Apr 06 2005 - 07:08:34 EDT

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